Mr. Walker worked with associates Jerry Dumas, Bob Gustafson and Bud Jones as well as several of his children to come up with ideas for gags. In addition to “Beetle Bailey”, he created “Hi and Lois”, starring Dik Browne, based on the lives of Mr. Walker’s family members; “Boner’s Ark,” featuring quirky animals and their search for dry land; and “Sam’s Strip”, about a comic book character who runs his own comic strip. He founded “Sam’s Strip” with Mr. Dumas, who then took over and renamed it “Sam et Silo”.
Working in a home and studio in Stamford that once belonged to Gutzon Borglum, A sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Mr. Walker was also a comics historian and curator. In 1974 he opened the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Greenwich, Conn. His extensive collection of drawings and books, including creations by Walt Disney, Charles Schulz, Walt Kelly and Rube Goldberg, were later housed in Rye Brook, NY, and Boca Raton, Florida, and are now at Ohio State University in Columbus as part of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
Besides his sons Brian and Greg, survivors include his second wife, Catherine Carty; two stepchildren, Priscilla Prentice and Whitney Prentice; and his children Polly, Margie, Neal and Roger from his marriage to his first wife, the former Jean Suffill, which ended in divorce.
“Beetle Bailey” used the military as a setting, but its popularity stemmed from everyday life and universal battles against authority figures and mindless bureaucracy.
“It’s mostly about working, playing, eating and sleeping,” Mr. Dumas, who started working with Mr. Walker in the 1950s, told The New York Times in 2000. ‘it can be understood and related by everyone in the world.’
When the Ministry of Defense congratulated Mr Walker on his 80th birthday, he said: “Human frailty is the raison d’être of humour. People like to see the weaknesses of humanity. And they relate to the little guy, the bottom one.